It is funny. you could live in a city for a long time and only recently discover a foodie institution. That is how I felt about my dining experience at Craft, Tom Colicchio’s restaurant. I have only been there twice, once for a Stalworth Winery wine dinner, which was obviously an organized event, and then for dinner this past week.
As the cost of dining out continue to rise, you become much more selective because the overall experience matters. Restaurants have to walk a very delicate line. Profit margins are already razor thin. Building and maintaining a loyal customer base, and finding ways to be creative without cutting corners becomes a true art during leaner times.
Service: Unpretentious, Warm and Knowledgeable
I can always forgive average food if the service is impeccable, and knowledgeable without pretense. I love when people genuinely take pride in their job. This was the case at Craft. The manager, hostess, Somm and waitstaff were all there because they genuinely seem to enjoy creating a true environment of hospitality. The noise level was lively but not obnoxious, making it great for dates or business meetings.
Our waiter was happy to offer suggestions, which is never a surprise but when you can sense the candor in the suggestions, that is even more appreciated.
Note: I didn’t sit at the bar, but although it is small, I would definitely come here solo. It felt as welcome as the judiciously spaced tables.
Food: Simple Is and Simple Does – Flavorful and Streamlined
Personally, I always favor a small, seasonally-based menu. It shows careful and artisanal thought. While some of the options were sold out, it was evident in both presentation and taste, that only the best proteins and ingredients are sourced. Food sourced from the highest quality farms and vendors, doesn’t need a great deal of pomp and circumstance. My date and I shared a perfectly peppery arugula salad and octopus, which was so succulent. I had Quail, with perfectly crispy, browned skin and moist meat. We shared the au gratin which was just rich enough.
I haven’t even mentioned the book. A leather bound story of wine and liquors from all over the world. The wines are painstakenly selected for exploration, not just for expense accounts. The first thing I look for in a restaurant is their wine and cocktail list. My St. George martini was delicious as was the 2019 Domaine Weinbach Grand Cru Schlossberg riesling.
The pomp and circumstance was all from my mouth. Restraint is an art form in the culinary world.
Ambience: Lively without being Obnoxiously Loud
The noise level at a restaurant is more important than we often realize. Whether we are out for reasons of business, pleasure or flying solo, the low buzz of conversation is always nice, without being at club levels. Conversation with each other, with strangers is so important, and makes a meal special.
At Craft, you will find that perfect buzz. People are intoxicated by the relaxed upscale atmosphere, crafty cocktails and epicurean momentum.
One syllable says it all.